What is a Wesley Nurse? A look at the specialty of faith community nursing.

This year, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Wesley Nurse program, a faith community nursing program that provides holistic care – body, mind and spirit – through education, health promotion and facilitation of community resources.

While we have an extensive outreach program throughout 74 counties in South Texas, some may wonder what being a Wesley Nurse is all about. Simply put, Wesley Nurses help individuals and communities improve their health and wellness through self-empowerment and access to health care resources and information.

Before talking more about faith community nursing and Wesley Nurses, let’s talk about registered nurses in general. Most of us have had contact with an RN at some point in our lives, whether through the illness of a loved one, our own health care needs or at school. You may have seen your registered nurse removing or replacing a medical device, setting the rate on an IV pump, teaching topics such as nutrition, asking a lot of invasive questions or checking your blood pressure. An RN differs from other types of health care professionals in that they may practice independently of other health care providers, or in collaboration with them. As such, many situations call for a team approach. Respect for human dignity and a primary commitment to the patient (or community of patients) are the basis for all nursing actions, in addition to promoting health, and advocating for and protecting the rights, health and safety of patients. According to the American Nurses Association, RNs are collaborators, ethicists, agents of social justice and accountable for their own actions. RNs observe, identify, name a problem or risk, and then reduce suffering; this is followed by observing the response and carefully adjusting or repeating the process until the goal is reached. An RN’s restorative work is not simply limited to physical well-being, but at its best, also encompasses care for the emotional, social and spiritual care of the patient and their loved ones.

Within registered nursing there are subspecialties. Each requires specialized education and training, such as residencies or mentoring after becoming licensed. One of those subspecialties is faith community nursing. Faith Community Nursing draws its heritage from the roots of nursing, which evolved from the early church and the concept of Shalom, which is wholeness, completeness, contentment and peace. Faith community nurses differ from clinical specialties (e.g. trauma nursing, surgical nursing, home health nursing) in that their focus is on intentional nurturing of the patient’s spirit. As a faith community nurse, I work within a community to prevent illness and promote practices that lead to the best health. With my patients, I carry out practices such as active listening, counsel, prayer, presence, advocacy, referral and education.

Within the faith community nursing specialty, a group of more than 80 nurses, belonging to Methodist Healthcare Ministries are referred to as Wesley Nurses. We provide care to uninsured and at-risk individuals and are knowledgeable in professional nursing and spiritual care. Wesley Nurses document what takes place in the lives of their patients, track outcomes carefully, plan programs to address the education needs of a population, and develop relationships with people in the community. After my roles in emergency, home health and management settings, I am pleased to have been led to this calling. I’m currently working on donating diapers to assist Helping Hands, inviting the community to a back-to-school event, delivering meals to families over the summer, arranging for patient transportation to doctor appointments and writing cards to/visiting people who feel isolated. As a Wesley Nurse, I’m challenged to use all of what I have learned as an RN and as a follower of Christ.

Amy Roedl, RN, is a Wesley Nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse program is a faith-based, holistic health and wellness program committed to serving the least served through education, health promotion and collaboration with individual and community in achieving improved wellness through self-empowerment. To learn more, visit www.mhm.org or contact Amy at aroedl@mhm.org.